Posted on April 19, 2008 01:18 AM | Permalink
DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings are one win away from advancing to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
But Nashville goalie Dan Ellis made the Wings work for every inch of Friday’s 2-1 overtime victory.
Ellis, playing in his first post-season series, turned away 52 of 53 Detroit shots during regulation before Johan Franzen beat him on a breakaway less than two minutes into overtime.
"Ellis might have had the best game of any goalie in the playoffs this season," Predators forward J.P. Dumont said. "It would have been great if we had found a way to win for him. He deserved to win."
Instead, it was the Wings who took a 3-2 lead in the series. They’ll try to close matters out on Sunday in Nashville, where the Predators have won their two games.
The spotlight had been on the Detroit net heading into the contest, as Chris Osgood replaced Dominik Hasek and made his first start. Osgood made some good saves when needed, but hardly had to break a sweat in stopping just 20 shots.
"Some guys always say they need 35 shots but I can play good getting 16 shots or 40 shots,’" Osgood said. "I don't care. I do whatever I'm supposed to do. If the puck's in (Nashville’s end), they can't score, so it doesn't matter to me as long as you win.’"
The Red Wings should be credited with bouncing back after what might have been a serious momentum loss. Detroit had dominated the contest, only to see the Predators’ Radek Bonk tie the game with 44 seconds remaining.
"Before we went off (to the locker room), we talked about it right there on the bench,’" Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "Let’s get ourselves regrouped.’"
Defenceman Niklas Kronwall intercepted J.P. Dumont’s pass in the neutral zone and set up Franzen for a breakaway.
The Predators played without the team’s top two centers, Jason Arnott and David Legwand.
Arnott had participated in the team’s morning skate and spoke to media afterward, looking and sounding fine. But he told Predators coach Barry Trotz on the way back from the skate that he was sick.
"It seems like it’s the flu or food poisoning, or something like that," Trotz said.
Trotz had said following Game 3 that Arnott had suffered from some whiplash, after an exuberant post-goal celebration with Alexander Radulov. Arnott didn’t play in the final 3:48 of that contest.
But Arnott played in Game 4 and Trotz said Friday he did not think the effects of the collision were what sidelined Arnott in Game 5.
"This morning, I had full intention of Arnie playing," Trotz said. "That sort of came out of the blue and surprised us. It matches our year in terms of nothing has come easy."
Legwand had played the last two games after missing 14 consecutive contests with the foot bruise. But he’s still wearing a walking boot off the ice and clearly isn’t completely healthy.
Trotz said he’s hopeful both centres will return to action on Sunday.